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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Black Crowes, Kathleen Edwards and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Monday, March 3, 2008

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The Black Crowes, “Warpaint” (Silver Arrow) ***

Depending on how you view it, Black Crowes fans have been waiting for this album for either seven years, since the group’s last studio album, or two years, since the Crowes took flight again after a threeyear hiatus. In either event, frontman Chris Robinson’s call of “Hallelujah, come join the jubilee” at the start of this 11-song set is a welcome invitation to a musical venture that was well worth the wait. “Warpaint,” in fact, is the Crowes’ most focused and energetic outing since the group’s third album, “Amorica,” in 1994, mining the same array of all-inclusive synthesis of influences — from Allmans-to-Zappa — but bolstering it with sharp songwriting and sharp performances honed by the group’s extensive roadwork since 2006 and further fortified by the addition of North Mississippi Allstars’ Luther Dickinson. The psychedelic trippiness that’s the Crowes’ stock-in-trade is still abundant throughout “Warpaint,” via tracks such as “Daughters…,” “Movin’ on Down the Line,” “Whoa Mule” and “Wounded Bird.” “Walk Believer Walk,” “Evergreen” and a spirited cover of the Rev. Charlie Jackson’s “God’s Got It” dig into some gritty blues, while “Oh Josephine,” “Locust Street” and “There’s Gold in Them Hills” deliver mellower moments and “We Who See the Deep’s” tight, thick groove is a booty-shaking highlight. The group has withstood a long and occasionally shaky road, but “Warpaint” makes its return something to, well, Crowe about.


Kathleen Edwards, “Asking For Flowers” (Zoe/Rounder) ***1/2

There was certainly nothing wrong with Canadian singersongwriter Edwards’ first three albums, but “Asking For Flowers” finds her in full bloom on an 11-song set filled with literate and provocative lyricism, vivid characters and cinematically engaging scenarios. It also features an engaging variety of moods, from rocking, country-flavored energy of “The Cheapest Key” and “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory” to the spare, beautiful ambience of “Sure as S---” and “Scared at Night,” as well as the sociopolitical concerns of “Oil Man’s War,” “Oh Canada” and “Alicia Ross.” “Flowers” is the least she deserves for this striking career zenith.


Bauhaus, “Go Away White” (Bauhaus Musik): The goth rock kings take a final bow 30 years after forming in the late ‘80s punk rock scene.

Black 47, “Iraq” (United For Opportunity): More intelligent and passionate political discourse from the New Yorkbased Irish rockers.

Jackson Browne, “Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2” (Inside): The veteran pop troubadour’s second solo acoustic set draws four songs from his last album, “The Naked Ride Home,” and an assortment of older favorites.

Carlene Carter, “Stronger” (Yep Roc): The newly sober country chanteuse has returned with her first album in 13 years.

The Doors, “Live in Pittsburgh 1970” (Bright Midnight/Rhino): The legendary rockers’ vaults yield a Steel City treat highlighted by a 22-minute version of “When the Music’s Over.”

Flogging Molly, “Float” (SideOneDummy): The fourth album from the Irish rock troupe fronted by sometimes Ferndale resident Dave King.

Ghostland Observatory, “Robotique Majestique” (TrashyMoped): The Texas duo’s third album continues to explore adventurous electro dance-rock grooves.

Alan Jackson, “Good Time” (Arista): The country star wrote all 17 songs on his 17th album, including a duet with Martina McBride.

Kaki King, “Dreaming of Revenge” (Velour): Producer Malcolm Burn helps the New York songwriter and guitar virtuoso make her most accessible album yet.

Sunny Levine, “Love Rhino” (Quango): Levine, better known for producing the Happy Mondays and Pete Yorn, turns out his first-ever album.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Street Survivors: Deluxe Edition — 30th Anniversary” (Geffen/ UMe): The final studio set by the Southern rock group’s original lineup sports new live tracks as well as the first, unreleased version of the album.

Mason Proper, “Short Hand” (Covecotte): The experimental rockers from Ypsilanti follow their 2007 debut album with this EP of live tracks and video footage.

Alex Nackman, “Still Life Moves” (Long Road):

The fifth album from the roots rocker whose songs have been heard on “The Hills” and “Real World Denver.”

Waco Brothers, “Waco Express: Live and Kicking at Schubas Tavern” (Bloodshot):

The title says it all; few bands kick better in a live setting than these twangy Chicago madmen.

What Made Milwaukee Famous, “What Doesn’t Kill Us” (Barsuk): The sophomore album from the modern rock group — which actually hails from Texas.

Whiskeytown, “Strangers Almanac” (Mood Food/Outpost/Geffen/UMe):

Ryan Adams and company’s major label debut is expanded with live tracks, covers and unreleased demos.

Jim White, “Transnormal Skiperoo” (Luaka Bop): The fifth album from the Florida born former Pentacostal fashion model, New York cab driver, pro surfer and filmmaker — kind of like a whole band in one person.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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